Mixed Age Groups
Montessori classrooms are mixed age groups, this grouping creates a highly productive learning environment. Each child works on material that is geared towards their ability and interest. When children of different age levels are able to work on individiual materials along side one another, this produces a non-competitive atmosphere. In fact, most children excel beyond the "average age expectations".
In the Montessori classroom, the teacher has prepared the environment which contains materials that correspond to specific developmental stages. Under the teacher's guidance, the children are given free choices to select material to work on. The teacher respects the spontaneous and individual interests whilc giving the child the opportunity to pursue them.
The Montessori method is based on Concrete learning which is hands-on manipulation of materials. The child learns by exploration through their senses. For instance, math lessons are presented by using materials. By combining this equipment, separating it, counting it, and comparing it, the child gains a solid understanding of the quantity values placed on written number symbols.
Divided by Age
Traditional classrooms are divided by age and have specific curriculum for the age group. Once the child has mastered that curriculum, there is no room for advancement. Which often leads to boredom and disciplinary problems. On the other hand, if the curriculum is too advanced for the child, they also tend to lose interest and act out in various ways.
In the traditional classroom children are given equal lessons geared toward the average age ability to complete, whether they are ready for it or not. Therefore, a child that is slower than average or more advanced will lose interest, become bored, and have trouble in school.
Abstract learning is based on verbal and visual information. This means that the child is memorizing the information often, without understanding the whole concept. For instance, math lessons often are based on workbook formats and rely on number memorization, which is difficult for children without having a solid grasp on the quantity values placed on written number symbols.